Almost Half of Qatar’s Traditional Investor Base Has Cut Ties With the Country

Banks in the world’s wealthiest nation per capita will need to offer more yield if they tap the market as almost half of their traditional investor base has cut ties with the country.

Qatar National Bank QPSC, Commercial Bank QSC and Doha Bank QSC are considering funding options that include loans, private placements or dollar bonds, people familiar with the plans said. But investors and analysts say the lenders will have to pay more to compensate for the region’s political risk to drum up interest.

Read More: QNB Is Said Among Qatari Lenders Seeking Funding Amid Spat

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations severed relations with Qatar two months ago accusing it of supporting extremist groups, a charge it denies. That led to a drop in foreign deposits in June, the steepest in almost two years, and a record jump in the three-month Qatar Interbank Offer Rate.

Here’s what analysts and investors had to say about borrowing costs for Qatari banks planning to tap the market:

  • While borrowing costs will rise, “the assumption of government support means yields won’t rise that much,” said Max Wolman, a London-based senior investment manager who helps oversee $11 billion in emerging-market debt at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc.
    • There could be interest from some Asian investors, given they were involved in some of the recent Middle East sovereign deals.
    • “If they look attractive from a yield perspective we could buy them. Currently we are very underweight Qatar” because the yields weren’t attractive
    • Looking at QNB’s dollar-denominated bonds due September 2021, the yields peaked at 3.8 percent and are currently around 3.1 percent, “so I would say a five-year at 3.5 to 3.75 percent would be attractive.”
  • Even if they offer “200 basis points over midswaps, I would not lend to them at this rate, as it will not cover for the risk of further deterioration,” said Marina Davies, a London-based senior credit analyst at Pioneer Investment Management Ltd., a company of Amundi Group that oversees over $1 trillion globally.
    • “Basically, we are talking not only about the price, but about the availability of such funding, as so far the banking system seems to be having capital outflows.”
    • “For now, if they don’t manage to raise money, the authorities will provide it as they have been doing until now. The short-term debt of the banks is significant, and it does not seem to be renewed. The sovereign is plugging it for now, but providing just enough foreign currency to compensate for the outflows.”
    • “However, we don’t know how liquid the sovereign funds are, and we can expect that the asset quality of the banks may deteriorate. Therefore, I believe the current levels don’t reflect the credit risk of this system.”
  • The risk premium demanded by the market has already gone up, after Moody’s Investors Service lowered their outlook on Qatari Banks, said Rami Jamal, a money manager at Amwal LLC in Doha, which oversees around one billion riyals ($270 million) in assets.
    • “Pricing thus becomes dependent primarily on the currency and the tenor of the debt. If QNB is looking to raise debt for five years in U.S. dollars, for example, the market will not accept anything below 3.50-3.75 percent range.”
    • “QNB has plenty of short-term funding maturing in the next two years.”
  • Asian investors could help Qatari banks keep yields on offerings relatively low, according to Zurich-based Philipp Good, who helps manage about 9 billion Swiss francs ($9.4 billion) at Fisch Asset Management AG.
    • “My best guess is that they find partners who give them money at a very low premium to current market prices.”
    • “Asian investors are still keen to put money into the Middle East and I do not doubt that they will get the money at similar spreads” as previous sales.
    • “I would expect no additional premium from where the market is today. Repricing has taken place already.”
  • Deterioration in the economy and possible further downgrades of Qatar’s long-term debt will drive local institutions to pay higher spreads as a result of the risk premium, said Tariq Qaqish, the managing director of the asset management division at Mena Corp. Financial Services in Dubai.
    • “In the short term, psychology will pay a big role in pricing new debt issues as investors are uncertain of the magnitude of the problem and, most importantly, the length.”
    • “As deposits decline and the average loan-to-deposit ratio rise, I expect most banks to tap the market and to pay a risk premium of 15-20 basis points.”

Qatari bank bonds maturing this year:




Amount due (in $ million)

QNB 13 Aug. 26 – Dec. 27 382
QIB 1 Oct. 10 750


1 Oct. 18 700


Inside the mind of the modern homebuyer

  • The majority of buyers are completely happy with their experience purchasing a home, but affordability issues are keeping some on the sidelines.

The real estate event of the summer
Connect with other top producing agents at Connect SF, Aug 7-11, 2017

The homebuyer’s journey is laden with obstacles. Credit issues, low inventory, unreasonable sellers and complicated inspections can all alter a homebuyer’s perception and taint the whole experience for some. For others, the process proves fairly breezy.

The results of Experian’s 2017 Homebuyers Survey revealed that some potential buyers are steering away from homeownership due to affordability, credit or lifestyle preferences while others are working hard to overcome the setbacks keeping them from purchasing.

The study also found that:

  • More homebuyers are beginning to recognize the importance of credit and work to improve it for the purpose of qualifying for a better home loan rate.
  • Future buyers’ credit scores and financing options can have a negative impact on the amount they can spend on their new home and their timeline for buying.
  • After going through the homebuying process, recent homebuyers are more aware of the value of credit and now monitor their it more often.

Homebuyer perceptions: Inventory, affordability, buying experience

Despite the industry’s struggle with low inventory, overall homebuyers don’t feel the pinch in that area: What they’re struggling with is affordability (which is made worse by the low supply). The majority (64 percent) feel they have enough inventory to choose from, while 22 percent say it’s an issue.

Over half of buyers firmly believe houses are less affordable than they were 10 years ago, while only 29 percent believe they are more affordable and 17 percent feel prices have remained the same.

As far as their satisfaction with the homebuying experience, 44 percent of future homebuyers say they are happy with how things are turning out for them at this point. A close 40 percent say they are not satisfied with the experience so far, while 16 percent remain indifferent.

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Results for recent homebuyers were quite different, with a sweeping 83 percent saying they are completely happy with their experience purchasing a home. A very small number (4 percent) claim to be disappointed by the experience, while 13 percent say they were neither happy nor unhappy with the experience.

The survey revealed that buyers most likely to be happy with their homebuying experience include those who 1) already know their credit score, 2) have exceptional credit, 3) benefit from an annual household income of $100,000 or more, and 4) are not first-time homebuyers.


Denis Mack Smith, Chronicler of Modern Italy, Dies at 97


Denis Mack Smith in an undated photograph.

Denis Mack Smith, whose myth-destroying interpretation of Italian unification infuriated many Italian historians but established him as the pre-eminent British writer on modern Italy, died on July 11 at his home in Oxford, England. He was 97.

In his first book, “Cavour and Garibaldi, 1860: A Study in Political Conflict,” published in 1954, Mr. Smith took a cold look at the politics and personalities involved in the Risorgimento, the movement that forged a unified Italian state from a disparate collection of regional kingdoms. For Italian historians, this was a glorious chapter in their country’s history, a heroic national struggle, brilliantly planned and executed, leading to the creation of a liberal democracy.

Marshaling extensive and persuasive documentary evidence, and writing in a clear, urbane style, Mr. Smith told a less romantic story. Modern Italy, he asserted, was forged in bitter conflict, with elites pitted against elites, church against state, north against south, and the great powers pulling strings.

Idols emerged tarnished. Count Camillo Cavour, hitherto regarded as the cleareyed genius behind reunification, emerged as a scheming, often impulsive, trickster. Giuseppe Garibaldi, rather than a dashing warrior, emerged as a waffler, and Victor Emanuel II, Italy’s first king, as a feckless playboy.

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Mr. Smith, the historian David Gilmour wrote in the British newspaper The Independent in 1997, “upset a well-defended orthodoxy that had been entrenched for almost a century.”


CreditUniversity of Michigan Press

In “Italy: A Modern History,” published in 1959, Mr. Smith caused further outrage by refusing to regard Italian fascism and the rise of Benito Mussolini as an aberration. The causes, he insisted, could be traced to longstanding political tendencies and to structural weaknesses in the Italian system, a legacy of the Risorgimento.

“There are not many historians who matter,” the historian Jonathan Steinberg wrote in The London Review of Books in 1985. “Not many whose works have changed the way people see themselves. Of that little list, there is an even smaller number whose works have mattered to those in another society.” Mr. Smith was one of them, he asserted, a writer whose early work “told many Italians what they did not want to hear, but told them at a special point in their history when they had no choice but to listen.”

David Mack Smith was born on March 3, 1920, in London to Wilfrid Smith, a tax collector, and the former Altiora Gauntlett.

He attended St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir School and Haileybury College in Hertfordshire, where he won a scholarship to study history at Peterhouse College, Cambridge. Along the way, he taught himself Italian.

After teaching at Clifton College in Bristol and serving in the war cabinet, he immersed himself in historical archives in Sicily, an experience that later bore fruit in his two-volume work “A History of Sicily” (1968), written with Moses Finley.

In 1947 he became a fellow at Peterhouse, where he taught until he was elected a senior research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, in 1962. He retired in 1987.

His first marriage, to Ruth Hellmann (later Viscountess Runciman) ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, the former Catharine Stevenson; two daughters, Sophie and Jacintha; and four grandchildren.

If Mr. Smith offended professional historians, he found a receptive audience with Italian readers, who made “Italy: A Modern History” a runaway best seller, one of the most popular academic works ever published in Italy. His ideas were greeted warmly by Italian leftists, who regarded the Risorgimento as a failed revolution, but his sheer readability also contributed to sales.


Nissan attacked for one of ‘nastiest anti-union campaigns’ in modern US history

Auto workers and others march to Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, plant following a pro-union rally in March.

Days before a potentially historic union vote at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, the car company has been accused of running one of the “nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labour movement”.

The vote, a fiercely contested effort by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to represent a foreign automaker’s US plant, is planned for Thursday and Friday this week. It comes as US unions are hopeful they can overturn a series of defeats as they seek to build membership in southern states, where manufacturers have moved to take advantage of lower wages and non-union workforces.

In the closing days of the campaign, which has attracted support from the former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, UAW officials and their allies have become increasingly confident of victory even as managers have pressured workers to vote no. “People are rallying,” says Frank Figgers, co-chair of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan.

The UAW is undertaking an extensive door-to-door campaign to visit workers in their homes to discuss the union. The UAW has shipped in staff from all over the country to help in the effort.

Other unions from around the south have shipped in organizers from across the country to assist in the outreach to the plant’s nearly 4,000 workers.

Nissan has responded with fierce opposition. The company has blitzed local TV with anti-union ads and stands accused of both threatening and bribing workers to vote no. It requires workers to regularly attend anti-union roundtable group meetings as well as one-on-one meetings with their direct supervisors, some of whom have worn “vote no” T-shirts to work.

The Republican governor, Phil Bryant, has also come out hard for Nissan. “If you want to take away your job, if you want to end manufacturing as we know it in Mississippi, just start expanding unions,” Bryant said last week.

Washad Catchings, a Nissan worker, said: “There is no atmosphere of free choice in the Canton plant, just fear, which is what Nissan intends.”

Late Friday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the independent US government agency responsible for enforcing US labor law, filed the latest in a series of complaints against Nissan.

The NLRB alleged that Nissan had violated the law in these anti-union sessions by warning that workers would lose wages and benefits if they supported the union.

The NLRB also found that a supervisor at the plant told workers that if they spoke out against the union, he would personally ensure that they received increased wages and benefits.

“Nissan is running one of the nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labor movement,” said the UAW secretary-treasurer, Gary Casteel, in a statement regarding the most recent NLRB charges. “The company’s investors as well as socially conscious policy makers in the US and around the world need to understand what’s happening in Mississippi and join local civil rights leaders in calling for a halt to Nissan’s illegal and unethical behavior.”

This isn’t the first time that NLRB has cited Nissan. In 2015, the watchdog charged Nissan and its temporary employee agency provider, Kelly Services, with violating workers’ rights. This April, the NLRB charged Nissan and Kelly Services with threatening to close the plant if workers unionized. The NLRB also chargedthe company with breaking labor law by having security personnel perform unnecessary security stops on union members.

Nissan has denied all the charges including the most recent one issued by the NLRB and plans to appeal them. “Today, the UAW has launched another set of baseless allegations against Nissan Canton,” wrote the Nissan spokesperson Parul Baraj in a statement. “The UAW can now continue its campaign of deception and empty promises as they work to divide the Canton workforce.”

Nissan says it plans to continue its attempt to campaign against the union as the election approaches. However, some workers said Nissan’s campaign was backfiring. “It’s almost overkill,” Morris Mock, a Nissan employee, said. “It looks like the company is being more desperate in their attempt to fight the union.”

Ultimately, Mock remains confident that the anti-union strategy won’t work. “Workers are numb to it,” says Mock. “Most of them been in there 14 years, and in 28 days, you can’t convince a Nissan worker that you are a good company.”


‘I slept on the floor in a flat near Harrods’: stories of modern slavery

When Elvira arrived at Heathrow in 2014, she thought she had escaped the abuse she’d faced as a domestic worker in Qatar. Yet the exploitation the Filipino woman was about to suffer would surpass anything she experienced in the Middle East. The 50-year-old was taken to a luxury flat in Kensington, where her boss, the sister of her “madam” in Qatar, made her work 20 hours a day, allowing her only one piece of bread and no wages. She was trapped in a life of servitude, while metres away central London bustled with shoppers.

More than 200 years since it was abolished, slavery is thriving. The UN’s International Labour Organisation estimates that 21 million people around the world are trapped in some form of modern slavery. In many cases, the physical shackles of the past have been replaced by less visible but equally effective forms of coercion and control: a worker on a factory line crippled by recruitment debts he or she cannot pay back; a man on a construction site in a foreign country without his passport or wages; a woman selling drugs on a roadside threatened with beatings and rape if she doesn’t earn enough. Dig deep into the supply chain of the world’s major commodities, and you’ll find instances of slavery. From the food we eat to the phones we use and the clothes we wear, its influence is pervasive.

Record numbers of people are fleeing violence and poverty, and traffickers are ready to exploit them. The International Office for Migration believes 70% of migrants arriving in Europe by boat have been victims of human trafficking, organ trafficking or exploitation. In the UK, the government estimates there are 13,000 people trapped in slavery, working in hotels, care homes, nail bars and car washes, or locked in private houses that have been turned into brothels.

“As a business model, slavery is a no-brainer,” says Siddharth Kara, an economist and director of human trafficking and modern slavery at Harvard’s Kennedy school of government. “It’s a low-cost, low-risk business that generates huge profits. To be two or three centuries on from the first efforts to eradicate slavery and still to have it permeating every corner of our economy is a damning indictment of our failure to tackle this highly lucrative criminal industry.”

In London, Elvira managed to make a bold escape, waiting until her “employer” was taking a nap before running to a nearby church for sanctuary. She is still waiting for justice. Much exploitation goes unpunished and unrecognised: data from the US State Department shows that in 2016 there were only 9,071 convictions globally for forced labour and trafficking offences.
To get a picture of what slavery looks like today, we talked to people all over the world who have experienced it first-hand. Their stories, which show how quickly one can become trapped and exploited, give an insight one of the biggest human rights challenges of our time.

Elvira, 50, Philippines

Portrait of former domestic slave Elvira


Jason Isbell on Modern Country: ‘Most of That Stuff Is Real Bad Music’

A few years ago, Jason Isbell was an ex-member of Drive-By Truckers, playing clubs and drinking way too much whiskey. Now, the Alabama native is headlining venues like Baltimore’s 19,000-seat Merriweather Post Pavilion while turning out sharp country-rock story-songs. (John Mayer has called him “the best lyric writer of my generation.”) Isbell’s new album, The Nashville Sound, gets heavier and more political than 2015’s Something More Than Free, which won Grammys, including Best Americana Album. On “White Man’s World,” he confronts the struggle his two-year-old daughter will face later in life, and “Cumberland Gap” captures the dismal anxiety of working in coal country. Isbell says his songwriting hot streak “had to do with when I got sober [in 2012]. That gave me a lot more time to work. I had more focus.”

You recently played the Outlaw Music Festival on the same bill as Bob Dylan. What did that mean to you?
It was pretty incredible, and you can tell he’s having a good time onstage right now. I actually have lyrics from “Boots of Spanish Leather” tattooed on my arm: “Just carry yourself back to me unspoiled, from across that lonesome ocean.” That line always means something to me in different ways, whether I’m talking about a relationship or some part of myself that I want to remain intact.

You had a great tweet recently. Explaining why you didn’t play any Nashville CMA Fest gigs, you said, “The reason is because I did not want to do that.”
I don’t like that kind of music at all. Sometimes I’ll hear a song that I really like that’s in that world. I like that song “Girl Crush.” Some of Miranda Lambert’s songs are really well-written. Stapleton’s great. But most of that stuff is just real bad music to me. It also seems like a huge mess. I like Nashville when it’s just regular old Nashville and there’s not a whole lot going on.

You live near a lot of mainstream country stars in Nashville. What happens when you run into them at the grocery store?
I don’t really get any shit from anybody. I own my record label. I have my own publishing. I do what I want. Nobody is selling a ton of records. Yesterday, someone tweeted the Garth Brooks Chris Gaines album sold 2 million copies. At the time, that was considered a disaster. Now, everyone would kill for that disaster. I don’t even know if Chris Stapleton’s Traveller is at 2 million yet. So we’re all in the same boat.

Your wife, Amanda Shires, is also a singer-songwriter. What’s life like at home?
We live out in the middle of nowhere, and we have all kinds of animals. We’re building a chicken run because a fox got all our damn chickens. You think it’s hard for conservatives and liberals to get along in this country? Try putting some free-range chickens and foxes together in Tennessee.

On The Daily Show, you said Trump’s election made you lose faith in the South. Did you catch heat from anyone in your home state of Alabama?
Well, The Daily Show is the least popular television show on cable in the state of Alabama. I’m kind of surprised how little trouble we’ve run into. When some people first heard this record, they said that I was gonna alienate half my audience. Where do they get those statistics? Kendrick Lamar probably does not have a whole lot of conservative listeners. I might alienate six or seven percent of my audience. But I gain a whole lot more to make up for it.

What’s surprised you most about Trump so far?
The Trump presidency has convinced me that we are living in a post-Christian America. I could see how a lot of conservative right-wing Christian Americans would vote for someone like Mitt Romney, who seems like a stand-up guy. But Trump is obviously not a good Christian person. I think the fact that so many people voted for him means that there aren’t that many good Christian people left in rural America. God is gone from those people.

There’s a line in “White Man’s World”: “Mama wants to change that Nashville sound / But they’re never gonna let her.” Are you writing about your wife?
Some idiot country-radio guy said that women were “the tomatoes on the salad,” meaning they were there to kind of decorate country radio’s actual revenue stream. That got me thinking how little value is given to women in that world. I’ve seen it with Amanda. She writes her own songs and tours, and through her experience I’ve seen how much harder it is for her. You don’t get the same respect. It is not a level playing field by any means.

You’re known as a great lyricist, but what’s your worst lyric?
My song “Cigarettes and Wine,” where I sort of break character: “She kept me happy all the time / I know that ain’t much of a line.” It always bothered me, but John Prine loves it. If it’s all right with him, I guess it’s all right.


It’s the 30th anniversary of Billy Joel’s glorious “quit lighting the audience” freakout

Billy Joel’s a notoriously prickly figure, the kind of guy who’s burned enough lovers and interviewers to forever cement his legacy as a “difficult person.” Regardless, the man’s a star, even today. Since 2014, lest we forget, he’s sold out Madison Square Garden 40 times. He was even bigger in the ’80s, too, an era when he had the clout to make an animated dog a bona fide rock star. Just a year before Joel voiced the lead in Oliver & Company, however, his fame suffered some scary palpitations, the likes of which Noisey explores in a new piece on Joel’s fateful 1987 sojourn to the Soviet Union.

As writer Dan Ozzi outlines, the shows were important as they essentially served as a gesture of goodwill that would hopefully help thaw the notoriously icy relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Joel would be one of the first major American artists to play there since the construction of the Berlin Wall. Furthermore, Joel ended up putting roughly $2.5 million of his own money to help cover the costs.

As one might imagine, the pressure on Joel was off the charts. It also didn’t help that he’d been on the road for roughly 11 months, and once he arrived in the USSR, he was more or less hoodwinked into an early, unofficial performance that served to blow out his vocal cords that much more. Despite this, his first show was a modest success; his second one, however, resulted in Joel’s most public meltdown.

Ozzi’s description of the straw that broke the camel’s back is especially compelling. Knowing that the Russian crowd was a huge fan of his son, “Sometimes A Fantasy,” he pulled it out early and saw a vibrant, dancing crowd. An HBO documentary crew making a film about the concert also took notice.

They were having so much fun, in fact, that his documentary crew wanted to get better shots of them and shone the house lights on the first few rows. But that caused a huge problem.

The Soviet crowd, raised by decades of Iron Curtain austerity, stopped dancing and froze like deer in headlights when they were lit up, petrified that the security guards would crack down on them. Then the lights would go out again and they’d resume dancing. Lights off, dancing. Lights on, frozen stiff. This went on and on like a game of red light, green light, one-two-three. With each flick of the lights, the perfectionist Joel saw his hard earned connection fading away. Mid-song, he started screaming at his crew to cut it out and, like a consummate professional, didn’t even miss a beat as he barked orders between lyrics.


“I hear Billy singing and he’s saying something, but I can’t hear what he’s saying,” lighting director Steven Cohen recalled in A Matter Of Trust. But even though Cohen couldn’t make out Joel’s words, he would definitely recognize what came next—the sound of a piano crashing onto the ground. The five-foot-five-inch Joel had gotten a sturdy grip under the keys, put his back into it, and, with red fury in his face, flipped the whole thing over. Band and crew members recall stray chunks of Yamaha whizzing past them as the piano landed completely upside-down with a loud crash.

As you can see in the above video, Joel went on to kick the downed piano and break his mic stand with the kind of fervor that would’ve no doubt riled up a young Kurt Cobain.

Had the incident happened today, with the clip immediately available for proliferation and dissection, Joel certainly would’ve been encouraged to cancel the shows and check into a psychiatric facility. Instead, it appears to have been a means of catharsis, and he returned for the next concert energized. Every remaining show on his six-date tour was a huge success—one even saw him crowd-surfing while being draped in American and Soviet flags. Presumably, no one lit the damn audience.


Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered COUNTDOWN – Xbox One release date, time for TODAY

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered countdown - Release date and time for Xbox One

UPDATE ONE: Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered has gone LIVE now as a standalone product in the Xbox Games Store today.

It costs £34.99 and the Variety Map Pack is also available for £11.59.

If you’re an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, you can get the Variety Map Pack for just £7.53.

ORIGINAL: Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered will become available to download and purchase on Xbox One today, but the release time has not been confirmed.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Remastered had previously only as a bundle with Call of Duty Infinite Warfare.

Modern Warfare Remastered launched last month on the PS4 as a timed exclusive, and cost £34.99.

Xbox One owners can expect to pay the same price.

The remastered CoD Classic features the original campaign and 16 multiplayer maps, all of which have improved visuals.

There’s even DLC available, which adds four extra maps from the original game.

The Variety Map will also become available for Xbox One players – the DLC cost £11.99 on the PS4, and the price is likely to be the same.

Modern Family: Young cast of popular sitcom gets salary hike and renewal of contract

gets salary hike and renewal of contract

Los Angeles: Modern Family young stars Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez have been locked in for two more seasons with new contracts that include salary increase.

Cast of Modern Family. Image via Facebook

Cast of Modern Family. Image via Facebook

The original children’s cast of the comedy show — Hyland, Winter, Gould and Rodriguez — who grew up with the show and are now adults got the pay hike after lengthy on-and off-negotiations, reports

The studio, 20th Century Fox TV, turned its attention to securing Hyland, Winter, Gould and Rodriguez after closing new two-year deals with stars Ed O’Neill, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara in May that paved the way for a two-year Modern Family renewal.

The older co-stars secured salary increases of over 40 per cent, from about $350,000 an episode in the most recent Season 8 to about $500,000 in Season 9.

According to, the young actors scored significant pay increases that takes them over $100,000 an episode.

Production on Season 9 is slated to begin in early August. The show airs in India on Star World and Star World HD.

Modern Family revolves around the life of patriarch, Jay Pritchett (played by Ed O’Neill) and his family that further branches into three families comprising the above mentioned newcomers. The ABC sitcom has been awarded the coveted Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series five times and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy in 2011.



Texas Senate readies to pass bathroom bill and others by end of week

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presides over the Texas Senate on the second day of a special session ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, in Austin, Texas, Wednesday, July 19, 2017.Click through our gallery that details some of the things you should know about the 'bathroom bill'... Photo: Eric Gay, STF / The Advocate

An early morning start had the Texas Senate on track to pass out all 20 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priority items by the end of the second week of the session.

After a rare midnight session Thursday and a weekend of around the clock committee meetings, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, had dozens of bills primed to be heard on the Senate floor over the next three days starting at 9 a.m. Monday. That includes bills dealing with highly controversial issues like abortion, transgender bathroom policies, school vouchers and tree ordinances.

DEBATE: 10 hours of public testimony in Austin over ‘Bathroom Bill’

But while the Senate plows through the agenda with Patrick’s promise to pass all of them by week’s end, the prospects of each in the House remains in doubt. House Speaker Joe Straus and the House met for less than 2 hours all of last week and have yet to pass out the one bill considered must pass — a bill reauthorizing the Texas Medical Board and four other agencies. That bill cleared the Senate early Thursday morning.

Though “bathroom bills” targeting transgender people fizzled in deep-red states across the U.S., the issue continues to be white hot in Texas. The Legislature is heading into special session prepared to revive it, and conservative groups are vowing revenge on Republican lawmakers who don’t approve it.

Media: WochIt Media

The Legislature’s regular session ended in May, but Abbott forced lawmakers back into a 30-day special session to restore the Texas Medical Board and the other boards. But he said last week that if he was going to call the lawmakers back, he was going to make it count.

OPPOSITION: Turner tells lawmakers ‘bathroom bill’ tries to solve non-existent problem

That has meant adding 19 other items to the special session call that are mostly celebrated by conservative groups, such as the bathroom bill, which would bar schools and local governments from enacting transgender bathroom policies and instead give the state full authority to set the rules. On Friday, a Senate committee overwhelming passed a bill that would require all people to use the bathroom of the sex that is listed on their birth certificates.

That legislation and other controversial items had hundreds of people filling the Texas Capitol over the last seven days, mostly in protest against the conservative agenda that Abbott has lined out.